Tony Northrup tests user intelligence by camera brand (plus, colour science)

So this kind of surprised me, and I don’t know if Tony realised what he was doing. In a questionnaire of 1,500 photographers, focusing on the brands Canon, Nikon, Sony and Fujifilm, he tested whether photographers were able to realise they had been shown the same set of images twice, and this is the result:

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 02.52.17

Tony marketed the results as being about brand loyalty, but the results were equally about whether you might realise you’d been duped, and whether you would pick consistently no matter what the label on the picture said.

Canon users were least able to make the determination of whether they had seen the same images before, and Sony users were also bad, but quite a bit better. Nikon users were a little more objective (or intelligent, your pick), and so were Fujifilm users. Tony does go as far as to say that Fujifilm users may be the most rational.

The proportion of people who were able to consistently pick the same image as their favourite no matter what was written on it was 8%. The other 92% picked different pictures the two times they were shown them.

Brand animosity

Tony further notes that whether photographers had picked the “Canon”, “Nikon” or “Sony” image (by label, they weren’t the actual pictures from those cameras) as their most favourite, they all picked the “Fujifilm” image as the worst (even though it wasn’t a Fujifilm image). According to Mr. Northrup, the Fujifilm users are particularly militant about their brand and have thereby elicited this response (not my experience, but there you go). I would note that the hate against Fujifilm could as easily be explained by full frame snobbery – a meadow on which Fujifilm does not play, and might therefore be considered an easy target to pick on.

Fujifilm users, in turn, apparently have beef with Sony. That’s easily explained by noting that since the other two brands have only recently started trying to be competitive in the mirrorless arena, they would not be seen as serious competition by Fujifilm loyals. They probably see Canon and Nikon as dinosaurs about to go extinct, but Sony, having focused on mirrorless for a much longer time, is a rival they probably take more seriously.

Actual best colour

The outcome of the actual original question Tony was interested in was the following:

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 03.22.41

I’ll link to the video below:

And just so you have a complete executive summary, Tony makes the point that you should give warmer colour balance to portraits – warmer than would be real. This matches up with a study reporting that people with yellowish skin were perceived as more attractive. (And just so you know, the study afair was not about ethnicity!)


  1. I’m not going to watch the video, as Tony irritates me and I’m generally too distracted by his wife anyway, but thanks for the story. It kind of verifies the phrase I’ve always said, “Nothing screams ‘Amatuer’ like ‘Canon!'”

    Isn’t Fuji supposed to have a mirrorless MF available someday? I know I read that somewhere. I’d love to see Pentax downsize their 645 cameras and go mirrorless with them.

    Thanks for the story!

    • Thanks for the comment. Fujifilm has had the GFX 50S out for some time, about as long as Hasselblad has had the X1D-50c. Both are mirrorless cameras with the same sensor as the Pentax 645Z, so cropped 645 with actual 44mm by 33mm sensors and a 0.8 crop factor relative to “full frame”.

      You’ve probably recently read (perhaps on this blog) about the release of the Fujifilm GFX 50R, which is due to be followed by a 100 megapixel model presumably having the same sensor dimensions. So in digital medium format, there’s more choice than ever, with Hasselblad having leaf shutters as their main selling point, and of course Phase One as the suppliers of “real” digital 645 with actual 56mm by 41.5mm capture area. No need to mention that the last option has a price point in an entirely different league.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.